The Calgary Flames were expected to be buyers this year at the trade deadline, and while technically they were, they were seen as more of buyers on tight budget... although they could have managed a major trade to help them pursue a strong and long playoff push.
Calgary Sun's Eric Francis reports the Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty and his teammate Brendan Gallagher were among the players the Flames looked into prior to Monday’s trade deadline. However, when it came down to pulling the trigger and making the big moves, the Flames passed on making expensive acquisitions and instead acquired forward Nick Shore from the Ottawa Senators and claimed winger Chris Stewart off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.
That is it. The two Canadian teams pulled a late trade right up against the National Hockey League's trade deadline. Shore made his way to Calgary, and going back to the other way to the Senators was a Flames' seventh round draft selection.
Shore was traded to the Senators as part of the deal that sent former Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings, but it seens like the Senators were looking to flip Shore rather quickly after that deal was consummated. Despite the small return for Shore, he has played in 55 total games split between the Kings and Sens this season and over those games has 4 goals and 12 assists for a total of 16 points. His plus/minus numbers are also pretty good with a combined +12 between the two teams.
As Francis writes in his column, the Flames "relied on a cheap, creative solution to barely gain entry to an expensive game they deemed too rich for their blood." Francis goes on, after asking general manager Brad Treliving about his deadline staggery:
"After kicking tires on the Max Paciorettys, Mike Hoffmans, Evander Kanes and Brendan Gallaghers of the world, the Flames wound up with mere token gestures he made no apologies for," Francis adds before reporting the GM's comments.
“These aren’t the big sexy moves, but if you go back in history and see how many times the big sexy moves have paid off, more often than not they haven’t,” said Treliving.
“We looked at specific roles in which people can help us and while we couldn’t get some things done, we got some things accomplished.”
Pacioretty was clearly on the trade block, however, it was reported that his price tag scared many suitors. As for Gallagher, he has been among the few positive spots in an otherwise horrible season and Habs general manager Marc Bergevin sees him as a core player.
However, many expected the Flames to make a move in between the pipes, especially after Buffalo Sabres number one goalie Robin Lehner demanded to be traded of deadline day. Recently, the Flames placed goalie Mike Smith on the injured reserve as he has been out with a lower-body injury since getting hurt in a game against the New York Islanders earlier this month. He was injured on Feb. 11 in the final seconds of a victory over the Isles as he had made 23 saves in the game before leaving with just under two seconds remaining.
The decision not to make a trade to get another netminder might point to the fact that Smith will return sooner than later. And it also gives rookies David Rittich and Jon Gillies the chance to prove what they are made of.
"We looked at that option (of trading for a netminder) and just felt it didn’t make any sense,” said Treliving, who did not want to spend on rent-a-goalie options.
“We’re hopeful Mike will be back and we’re confident in the two lads we have here. You look at everything, but in terms of spending what you need to spend and acquiring something that was A) available and B) could make a difference, we felt our situation was best to stand pat.”
“I know you’re all expecting my nose to grow in terms of the timeline (on Smith’s return), but we just don’t know – we’re hopeful.”
Let's also hope for them that the the frugal approach will have been the better option for them.